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SC gives RBI last chance to alter disclosure policy

Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • RBI had issued a Disclosure Policy in November 2016 which stonewalls revelation of every other kind of information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) including the list of wilful defaulters and annual inspection reports.
  • A bench of the Supreme Court found the policy to be in contravention to a judgement of the SC given in December 2015 (RBI vs. Jayantilal N. Misty) that  the RBI could not withhold information sought under the RTI Act.
  • The 2015 judgement had rejected the RBI’s argument that it could refuse information under the RTI Act, on the grounds of economic interest, commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship or public interest.


Is Right to information a constitutionally guaranteed right ?

  • The Supreme Court, in State of U.P v. Raj Narain – a 1974 case, recognized the ‘right to know’ as a right inherent in Fundamental Right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Following this, a plethora of cases the right to information was recognized as a right implicit in the article 19(1)(a) and in article 21 (fundamental right to life and personal liberty).
  • In Peoples Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, the Supreme Court observed that Right of information is a facet of the freedom of ‘speech and expression’ as contained in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Right of information, thus, indisputably is a fundamental right.


What is the Right to Information Act, 2005?

  • It is an Act of Parliament that enables the right to information.
  • It allows for setting up of a mechanism for a concerned person to seek information from the Government and public sector bodies.
  • It sets up a Central Information Commission at the Centre consisting of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • The  Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office up to the age of 65 years and shall not be eligible for reappointment:
  • The  salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
  • The Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner shall be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Chief Information Commissioner or any Information Commissioner, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed.


Performance of Safe Cities Programme unsatisfactory

Paper : General Studies 1

Why in news?

Safe Cities Programme has not made much headway and impact since its launch in March 2018 based on an investigation by The Hindu.


What is the Safe Cities Programme?

  • It was launched in eight major cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Lucknow for enhancement of women safety.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme with the expense shared in a 60:40 ratio between the Centre and the States.


Its components include:

  • Setting up an Integrated Smart Control Room;
  • Setting up Pink Out-posts (exclusively administered by Women police) for facilitating ease of filing complaint by women;
  • Pink Patrols of Women police;
  • Setting up Women Help Desks in all Police Stations with Counsellors;
  • Augmentation of existing Asha Jyoti Kendra;
  • Implementing Safety measures in buses, including Cameras;
  • Improving Street Lighting in identified Hot Spot areas;
  • Setting up Pink Toilets;
  • Integration of Women power-help line with single Emergency number.


BRI has entered new era of transparency : Xi

Paper : General Studies 2


Why in news?

  • China announced that the financial model for funding projects under its Belt and Road Initiative has been revamped to ensure sustainability of debt.
  • This announcement was made at the Second Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing.
  • India is not attending the event.

To read more on the Belt and Road, review the current affairs for April 20, 2019.


Qatar’s exit visa system to end this year

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) said that Qatar will abolish its controversial exit visa or kafala system for all foreign workers by the end of 2019.
  • Qatar has already approved legislation for scrapping of this system in September 2018


What is the kafala system?

  • It means the sponsorship system under which foreign workers were required to obtain permission from their employers to leave the country.
  • This led to their harassment and being made to work even beyond their agreed upon tenures.


What is the International Labour Organization?

  • It was created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.
  • There was also increasing understanding of the world’s economic interdependence and the need for cooperation to obtain similarity of working conditions in countries competing for markets.
  • It is a tripartite organization, the only one of its kind in the UN, bringing together representatives of governments, employers and workers in its executive bodies.
  • It has 187 member states.
  • World Employment and Social Outlook is its flagship report.


IRDAI forms panel to review microinsurance framework

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has set up a committee under Suresh Mathur to review the regulatory framework on microinsurance and recommend measures to increase the demand for such products.
  • The committee will suggest changes in the distribution structure, including mobile-based and technology driven solutions.


What is microinsurance?

  • Microinsurance products offer coverage to low-income households or to individuals who have little savings and is tailored specifically for lower valued assets and compensation for illness, injury or death.
  • Microinsurance, like regular insurance, is available for a wide variety of risks. These include both health risks and property risks. Some of these risks include crop insurance, livestock/cattle insurance, insurance for theft or fire, health insurance, term life insurance, death insurance, disability insurance and insurance for natural disasters, etc


What is the IRDAI?

  • It is a statutory regulatory body set up under the IRDAI Act, 1999

Its aims include:

  • To protect the interest of and secure fair treatment to policyholders;
  • To bring about speedy and orderly growth of the insurance industry (including annuity and superannuation payments), for the benefit of the common man, and to provide long term funds for accelerating growth of the economy;
  • To set, promote, monitor and enforce high standards of integrity, financial soundness, fair dealing and competence of those it regulates;
  • To ensure speedy settlement of genuine claims, to prevent insurance frauds and other malpractices and put in place effective grievance redressal machinery;
  • To promote fairness, transparency and orderly conduct in financial markets dealing with insurance and build a reliable management information system to enforce high standards of financial soundness amongst market players;
  • To take action where such standards are inadequate or ineffectively enforced;
  • To bring about optimum amount of self-regulation in day-to-day working of the industry consistent with the requirements of prudential regulation.


1 million species risk extinction due to humans : draft UN report

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • A draft UN report catalogues how humanity has undermined the natural resources on which its survival depends due to which up to one million species are facing extinction.
  • The accelerating loss of biotic and abiotic resources poses no less a threat than climate change.
  • The direct causes of species loss in order of  importance are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in wildlife body parts, climate change and pollution according to the report.


Britain to fund anti-slavery projects

Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 1

Why in news?

  • Britain on Friday pledged £4 million to support global anti-slavery projects.
  • Six organisations, such as charity Anti-Slavery International and the United Nations University, a research institution, will share the aid money from The Modern Slavery Innovation Fund.
  • The Modern Slavery Innovation Fund was announced in 2016 and previously gave £6 million to schemes such as awareness-raising campaigns in Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam.